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Brian Lanker, 31 Aug 1947 - 13 Mar 2011  Search this
Odetta, 31 Dec 1930 - 2 Dec 2008  Search this
Gelatin silver print
Image: 71 × 71.4 cm (27 15/16 × 28 1/8")
Sheet/Mount: 81 × 75.3 cm (31 7/8 × 29 5/8")
Mat: 88.1 × 86.8 cm (34 11/16 × 34 3/16")
Frame: 92.7 × 91.4 × 4.4 cm (36 1/2 × 36 × 1 3/4")
Exhibition Label:
Born Birmingham, Alabama
Folk music straightened my back and it kinked my hair. What is an Afro or natural today used to be called an Odetta.
— Odetta
Asked what songs she found most meaningful, Rosa Parks declared, “All of the songs Odetta sings”—a ringing endorsement of the immensely talented folk and blues singer who became known as the “voice of the civil rights movement.” Odetta discovered folk music in the early 1950s, just as the folk revival was gaining momentum. Moved by the ballads, work songs, blues, prison songs, and spirituals that vividly expressed the historic struggles of African Americans, Odetta made this music her own. Her soulful singing and distinctive guitar playing soon earned her critical and popular acclaim.
The growth of the civil rights movement paralleled Odetta’s rising popularity. As her engagement with the movement deepened, her songs channeled her rage against injustice. “As I was singing, I was one of those things that was smoldering,” she later recalled. At the 1963 March on Washington, Odetta rallied the massive crowd with her powerful voice.
Nacida en Birmingham, Alabama
La música folk me enderezó la espalda y me enroscó el cabello. Lo que hoy es un estilo afro o natural, antes era un Odetta.
Al preguntarle qué canciones tenían más significado para ella, Rosa Parks dijo: “Todas las que canta Odetta”. Fue un endoso resonante al enorme talento de esta cantante de folk y blues conocida como “la voz del movimiento pro derechos civiles”. Odetta descubrió la música folk en la década de 1950, cuando el género estaba renaciendo. Conmovida por las baladas, los blues, los espirituales y las canciones del trabajo y las cárceles, que expresaban vívidamente las luchas de los afroamericanos, Odetta asumió esta música como suya. Su sentimiento al cantar y su manera de tocar la guitarra pronto le ganaron el aclamo del público y la crítica.
La popularidad de Odetta creció junto con el movimiento por los derechos civiles. Cada vez más comprometida con esta causa, canalizaba su furia contra la injusticia en sus canciones. “Mientras cantaba, era como algo que ardía”, recordó. Durante la Marcha a Washington de 1963, Odetta enardeció a la multitud con su poderosa voz.
Costume\Jewelry\Necklace  Search this
Interior  Search this
Architecture\Arch  Search this
Odetta: Female  Search this
Odetta: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer  Search this
Odetta: Society and Social Change\Reformer\Activist\Civil rights activist  Search this
Odetta: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie actor  Search this
Odetta: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Guitarist  Search this
Odetta: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Folk singer  Search this
Odetta: Grammy  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; partial gift of Lynda Lanker and a museum purchase made possible with generous support from Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, Agnes Gund, Kate Kelly and George Schweitzer, Lyndon J. Barrois Sr. and Janine Sherman Barrois, and Mark and Cindy Aron
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Usage conditions apply
© Brian Lanker Archive
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National Portrait Gallery